I’ve made more than my share of choices that make me want to do a facepalm, shake my head, and exclaim “What was I thinking?” While this is a fairly typical response to actions during most people’s twenties, I continued my questionable behavior right on up into my forties culminating with a suicide attempt, leaving me with a serious brain injury and causing me to lose custody of my two sons.
After the suicide attempt, my impaired brain was fuming mad and loaded with regret because all of the pain and self-criticism that made me want to commit suicide in the first place was still there. Plus now I could add giving myself a brain injury and losing custody of my kids to the list! To my horror, I realized that I’d brought this catastrophe on myself and couldn’t even blame somebody else, no matter how badly I wanted to. Sure, other people had contributed by their actions to the precipitating events, but, I, alone, had masterminded this mess. Talk about regret! “And I thought things were bad before?” I asked myself.
“And I thought things were bad before?” I asked myself.
Five months after the attempt, I started seeing a spiritual healer, Lorenzo Cree, seeking assistance in repairing my brain and emotional wounds, both old and new. Lorenzo was a tall, thin, wise looking man, who had adopted the Native American name, which suited him. Instead of a framed degree and professional accreditation’s, pictures of enlightened beings and thank you cards from those he’d helped dotted his walls. Although his only training was sixty some years in the school of life, Lorenzo helped me more than all of the mental health professionals I’d seen in the past with impressive credentials behind their names. He was that good, but I also think it was a case of “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
Lorenzo taught me that every one of us is “doing the best that we can with who we are at the time.” With this philosophy in mind, he guided me to extend compassion to myself and others and, I began to slowly unclench my fists and release the regret, anger, and pain that I’d been holding on to for years.
I also started reading and practicing forgiveness meditations and exercises to offer understanding and kindness to myself for the first time in my life. (See blog: The Gift That Keeps On Giving) As a result, I began to feel lighter and happier as if I’d set down weights that I didn’t even know I’d been carrying around for a long, long time. By merely changing my perception and viewing the past with kindness and compassion (See blog: Incomplete Compassion) the world became a friendlier place with considerably less suffering for me. You can change the past, I found! Well, at least, the way you see it.
You can change the past, I discovered! Well, at least, the way you see it.
Regardless of the enormity of the mistake, each mishap provides each one of us with an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson. Dr. Robin Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s sidekick, said: “Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn anything from them.”
In the Beth Orton song, “The Sweetest Decline,” she sings: “What are regrets? They’re just lessons we haven’t learned yet.”Now, instead of hitting my forehead and asking “What was I thinking?” I gently ask myself, “What was I learning?” image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chiarachiriani/